Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Little Something About Love.

When I was growing up, I wanted desperately to learn a foreign language. I had dreams of traveling to far away places, exploring new lands and settling in to the most perfect conversations. I used to beg my Mom to take me to the local library so that I could check out the foreign language dictionaries. I would spend hours flipping through the pages, picking out words and deciding upon 'just the right order.'

And then, just out of elementary school, I failed French class—twice. And just like that, my foreign language dreams were shattered.

"Why don't you try something else?" my teachers would ask.

And, even though I nodded softly in return—in my heart, there was just no way I would be giving up that easily.

And then I met Mrs. Li. Mrs. Li was a Chinese teacher at our local school, I met her on a break from English class. I mean, how could she miss me—as I sat outside her door each day, pretending to otherwise be engaged.

But, she could see what was in my heart. Good teachers have a way of seeing straight past our 'veils.'

"Why don't you come in and try today?" she offered, as she motioned me closer to the door.

When I explained my past failures, she simply smiled and said, "Nonsense...you can not fail at learning, you must learn first to look at things the right way."

And with that, she took out her pen, and drew the character for "love" on my spiral bound notebook.

"This is love," she explained. "It's a picture, you see. Top part is 'zhua'...means 'to hold.' Second, you see the 'roof' - that represents 'family.' Now you see, third part - is 'xin', means 'heart.' The heart is always in the center. Last part, 'you' - means, 'friendship.' Friendship ties all of it together. In Chinese, the most important part is always at the center. So you see the 'heart' is most important. Now, what do you think this means?"

"Love?" I asked timidly...expecting to be wrong.

"That's right! This is love...and heart ties everything together."

And just like that, it all made sense.

She was right, you know - in order to learn, we must first understand.

I later learned that my failures at French was to be expected. You see, when I was a very small girl my mother forced me to learn piano. And Chinese characters, it turns out, look a bit like those little notes on a sheet of music.

Turns out, I'm pretty good at Chinese. Thank you, Mrs. Li.